A good night’s sleep has a significant impact on our health—helping us feel more energized, less stressed, and able to perform better mentally. Unfortunately, many people struggle to get a full night’s sleep, with only 47 percent of Americans reporting they feel well-rested during the work week.
If you’re the kind of person who finds themselves wide awake at 3 a.m. contemplating the shadows on their ceiling, practicing mindfulness may offer the secret to sleeping better. A randomized clinical trial from UCLA found that mindfulness meditation improves sleep quality among older adults with sleep disturbances. The following guided meditation was used in that study to help people fall asleep. May it do the same for you.
Try This Guided Meditation to Help You Sleep More Soundly
A Body Scan Meditation for Better Sleep
This is a guided body scan meditation to help you prepare for sleep as you do the meditation. You may find yourself drifting off to sleep. This is fine, so you can allow the meditation to turn off on its own. If you notice thoughts such as worries or concerns arising that take your attention away from the meditation, this is also normal. See if you can redirect your attention back to the body scan, gently letting go of these thoughts.
If it’s possible, we’ll be noticing our body lying down on the bed. We’ll be feeling the body’s sensations that are present, scanning the body for any kinds of obvious sensations like vibrations, tingling sensations, heaviness, pressure, movement, heat, coolness. We’ll be noticing these sensations without trying to change them or make them different, simply bringing a mindful attention of curiosity and openness to the present moment.
We’ll be noticing these sensations without trying to change them or make them different, simply bringing a mindful attention of curiosity and openness to the present moment.
If you notice yourself starting to think about the sensation or think about something else, see if you can simply come back to the feelings and sensations present in your body.
- We can begin the meditation by noticing the sensations at the top of our head. So simply bring your attention to the top of your head and notice what you feel. You might notice some vibration or pressure. And then allow your attention to notice your skull as it makes contact with the bed or the pillow.
- There might be a sense of pressure. Wait. We might notice some other sensation. Simply be curious about these sensations, feeling them.
- Sometimes when you encounter a sensation, there may be some tension. If you can, allow it to gently relax. If that doesn’t seem possible, simply notice what it is that you feel and notice your face area, your forehead, eyes, nose.
- Notice your cheeks and mouth. There may be sensations of tingling, temperature, tightness; let it all be there. Be curious about your experience, and begin to notice the sensations in your throat.
- Now become aware of anything that’s present for you in your shoulder area. Within any point you notice tension arising. Sometimes in the act of noticing it, you may find yourself releasing the tension and relaxing. If it feels extremely tense, you can breathe gently, directing the breathing into that area to allow it to soften. And if it still stays tense, just continue on with the body scan.
- At this moment you’re aware of the sensations in your left shoulder. Bring your attention there, and then let your attention go down your arm. Notice any vibration, tingling coolness, pressure, movement. As you reach your elbow, your lower arm. And then your hand. There are often quite a few sensations in your hand area.
- Notice your hands and fingers. Be curious and open to the sensations that are present. Also allowing your hands to soften and relax, now bring your attention up to your right shoulder again, noticing any sensations that might be present. And then start to go down your right arm. Healing, vibration, tingling, movement. Noticing your elbow. Your forearm. And then also your hands. And fingers.
- Again, lots of sensations are usually present in our hands and fingers. But if at any point there’s no sensation, just notice the absence of sensation. Let your attention go back to the top of your shoulders to your back. Notice the shoulder area and bring your attention down your back.
- You can zigzag it across your back, or make an up-and-down movement in your mind. Sometimes there is strong sensation in our back. The sensation of touching the bed pressure weight. Sometimes there’s not much sensation at all. Can you be open and curious to whatever the experience is. Kind to yourself no matter what.
- You can notice your upper back. Your mid back. And notice the sensations in your lower back swell making sure to breathe. If thoughts crop up as you’re doing this, worries, concerns, once again, see if you can let them go. Let them be like clouds floating in the sky. Moving across your mind. But don’t take them so personally, just let them go if possible. Or at the very least come back to my words, and this body scan. And bring your attention to the top of her chest area.
- Gently scan your chest down to the upper rib cage, into the stomach area. See if you can soften your stomach. Breathe more deeply directing some breath into that area allowing it to soften and relax.
- You can notice your pelvis the whole pelvic area. The places where your body connects with the bed. Feeling whatever sensations are present. Now gently bring your attention to your left hip. I will start to bring the awareness down our leg. Noticing the sensations in our thigh. You can circle your attention gently around the leg.
- Noticing whatever it’s obvious to you. Not forgetting to breathe. Bringing this kind and curious attention to your leg. And then to your knee and left calf noticing whatever is present vibration tingling he. Itching warmth. Coolness. Heaviness. Let it be hair whatever it is. Noticing your ankle. Foot and toes.
- Maybe quite a bit of sensation in your feet possibly maybe not become aware of ever is here for you. and come back up to your right hip notice the sensations in your right hip. And again bring your attention down your right thigh. Healing whatever is present.
- You can circle your attention Or notice it in any other way that makes sense to you. Feeling the vibration and tingling. Heat heaviness movement into your knee. And down to your leg your calf feeling the sensations present scanning your body and then down to your right ankle and toes.
- Now that you’ve scanned your body. You’re welcome to start again. You can continue listening, Or you can continue on your own. This time if you wish you can start at your feet. And go back up through your body till you get to the top of your head. Feel free to scan your body up and down as many times as it’s helpful to you.